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An Agrarian RepublicFarming, Antislavery Politics, and Nature Parks in the Civil War Era$
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Adam Wesley Dean

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469619910

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469619910.001.0001

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A Question of Slavery in the West

A Question of Slavery in the West

(p.11) One A Question of Slavery in the West
An Agrarian Republic

Adam Wesley Dean

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes how Americans in the late 1700s to the mid-1800s connected land use with what people at the time called “republicanism.” Republicanism held that in order to have a small central government, citizens needed to be virtuous and orderly. While the Jeffersonian agrarian ideal and the initial critiques of slavery expansion during the Missouri Crisis influenced the Free-Soil and Republican Parties of the 1850s, there were few links between promotion of smallholder settlement and antislavery thought. Though the Northwest Ordinance contained a prohibition of slavery, many supporters of the law only opposed slavery’s restriction from the Old Northwest, where they deemed it to be environmentally inappropriate. Some of the law’s supporters had no problem with the institution expanding to the modern-day states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama—the so-called Old Southwest. The chapter also investigates how, during the second-party system pitting Whigs against Democrats, ideas about proper land use became intertwined with larger questions of national development.

Keywords:   land use, republicanism, slavery, Missouri Crisis, Northwest Ordinance, Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soil Party, Republican Party

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